Diane Weber Bederman

Will it be Flight or Fight?

In 1940, when the invasion of the British Isles by the armed forces of Nazi Germany looked imminent, Gandhi offered the following advice to the British people:

“I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions…. If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.” (Non-Violence in Peace and War)

This is appeasement taken to an irrational end.

The Jewish people, for thousands of years lived with and heard Jew hatred. And we laid low, we bartered, we appeased and then we would flee. And it worked.

Right up to the Shoah.

There is within all of us the genetic imprint to flee when faced with anger. It lives within the reptilian part of our brain, the oldest part, the amygdala. And it serves us well.But to a point.

But within that part of our brain there is another instinct deeply embedded.The instinct to stand firm and fight.

We have our own glorious country, again. Now sixty-six years old. A thriving liberal democracy in the midst of a geopolitical swampland. And we have within us a glorious history of fighting. King David, Queen Esther, The Maccabees, Warsaw Ghetto 1948, 1967, 1973, and Munich and Entebbe.

Today, in Israel, there is a war of words, of policy, going on between these two genetically embedded instincts-fight or flight.

And it is taking place in the diaspora as well.

In England there is a group called the Sussex Friends of Israel. Relatively small in number these people come out every weekend to fight the BDS campaign. And their Facebook page has more than 8000 likes-from people around the world-including me.

“The support, friendship, strength and confidence that so many people, from literally across the world, have shown us(Sussex Friends of Israel) is truly inspiring. Our little band of brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers, Jews and non-Jews, gay and straight, black and white ‘aint so little no more.”

From their page

“…it is affirmation that our belief in standing and openly showing our support for Israel is not just the right thing to do but that it MUST be done. We never chose to do this, the BDS left us with no option. For us and for thousands of others, doing nothing was no longer an option.”


And then there are organizations like Canada’s CIJA, The Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. They believe in quiet diplomacy-working behind the scenes. There is within CIJA a belief of “either /or.” Either it is their behind the scenes, quiet diplomacy, or in your face emotionally gratifying but pointless grass roots advocacy. Shimon Fogel, CEO of CIJA:

“The binary option is this: undertaking a response that provides immediate, if unsustained emotional satisfaction, or embracing a strategic plan that seeks the long-term, meaningful advancement of the community’s interests. There is no middle ground.”

Mark Vandermaas,Founder, Israel Truth Week described Fogel’s advocacy as Don’t take to the streets. Don’t protest. Don’t be confrontational or controversial. Don’t embarrass us with your selfishness and illogical efforts. We know best. Let us tell you what to do.”

Our  ingrained instinct to flee seems to overwhelm the need to fight. Self-preservation, collective preservation. The question we must ask ourselves, “Have we reached the point when fleeing, in the guise of appeasement or peace talks, is no longer the answer?”

“Do the Jewish people in the land of Israel, the Jewish nation state have the right to be protected from those who want to harm them.”

I believe there is no excuse for bombs being dropped on our children-ever. There is no excuse for rioting in Jerusalem-ever. No one has the right in Israel to harm a Jew-ever. Jew haters must not dictate the response from Israel. No other country would put up with this. Especially the USA. We cannot let the Jew-haters dictate the response from the Jewish state. If Jews cannot be safe in Israel we cannot be safe in the diaspora.

My Jewish brothers and sisters, if not now, when?


About the Author
Diane Weber Bederman is a multi-faith, hospital trained chaplain who lives in Ontario, Canada, just outside Toronto; She has a background in science and the humanities and writes about religion in the public square and mental illness on her blog: The Middle Ground:The Agora of the 21st Century. She is a regular contributor to Convivium: Faith in our Community. "